Software Heavyweight Unveils New Energy Solution, with a Twist

by | Aug 17, 2011

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Tom Siebel, founder of the customer relationship management software company Siebel Systems, ranks among the world’s most successful software entrepreneurs.  Since 2008, he and his new company, C3, have been hard at work on software solutions for enterprise energy and emissions management.  This much has been known for awhile, yet details on C3’s product and customers have remained shrouded in secrecy.

At an analyst briefing we attended on August 11th, Siebel and the management team at C3 took the wraps off their solution, and described in detail how early customers are putting the product to work.   As described in AltaTerra’s June 2011 industry landscape report Enterprise Sustainability Management Solutions, C3 is entering a complex market, involving major industry players such as SAP, IBM, CA, and IHS; and established pure-plays like Enablon, and more recently, Hara.

C3’s official entry is interesting for two reasons.  Firstly, C3 is well-financed and has a uniquely experienced management team.  Secondly – and here’s the twist – C3’s product functionality is serving the broad energy management ‘value chain’, versus a more traditional focus solely on commercial end users.   C3 is providing energy management and scenario planning software to key end-user accounts including Dow Chemical, Pella, and Adobe Systems.  Yet C3’s early ‘platform’ customers such as Pacific Gas & Electric Company, Constellation New Energy, and GE Energy provide particular insight into the structural role C3 aims to play in energy management.

PG&E, a large regulated utility operating in Northern California, is utilizing the C3 platform to underpin energy efficiency programs and services for its largest commercial and industrial customers.  For PG&E, such demand-side management efforts are highly strategic. They help utility customers reduce overall demand, accommodate time-variant pricing schemes, and save money.  This helps the utility better match power demand with availability, more important than ever as California’s aggressive Renewable Portfolio Standard continues to ratchet up.

PG&E chose C3 on account of the company’s focus on energy, as well as its product architecture designed for managing vast amounts of utility meter data.  Also, among C3’s product modules is “C3 Incentives”, a library of information to assist organizations in identifying applicable and available financial incentives for energy efficiency projects – relevant to C&I end customers, as well as utilities such as PG&E charged with managing a complex web of energy-related incentive programs.

C3 has an ambitious long-range vision, and as with any growing software company, good execution will be critical.  As software industry veterans, C3’s management understands the commitment needed for such an undertaking – they freely talk in terms of a ten year, $150M+ development horizon.  In addition to product development and initial customer relationships, they have established strategic alliance partnerships with companies such as CH2M HILL, SAIC, and Accenture.  These relationships will be important in providing the installation and organizational change management bandwidth so critical in software-driven business transformation efforts.

In short, C3 has a taken an interesting angle to the market for enterprise-level energy and emissions management, and has a very strong software industry pedigree.  We look forward to reporting C3’s progress as a structural player in the energy management value chain.

Don Bray is the President of AltaTerra Research and co-author of the recently released report, “Enterprise Sustainability Management Solutions: Reference Architecture and Buyer’s Guide.”

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